Jimbo Fisher, Zach Arnett let go

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The college football coaching carousel was picking up steam as the regular season wound down through a wild Saturday of action.

The big news of the day was Michigan State finding a replacement Mel Tucker, hiring Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State.

But that wasn’t all, as rumors began to pick up around the vacancy at Texas A&M

While the deep-pocketed school has plenty of money to throw around as it searches for its replacement for Jimbo Fisher, there didn’t appear to be anything concrete in the works.

Still, where there is heat there tends to be fire. Will the Aggies make a move soon? 

Check out the latest coaching news across the college football landscape.

Texas A&M: Mark Stoops? Ryan Day?

Rumors were swirling around Texas A&M on Saturday.

Early in the day, college football insider Bruce Feldman reported on “Big Noon Kickoff” that the Aggies would be interested in luring Ryan Day away from Ohio State, saying that the school was hopeful it could get the coach to pick up the phone if the Buckeyes lost to Michigan later in the day — which they did.

“Day is 56-6 as a head coach, and he came within a field goal of knocking off [eventual national champion] Georgia in the College Football Playoff [last year],” Feldman said. “But keep in mind, the specter of back-to-back losses against hated archrival Michigan hangs heavy over Columbus. If they win here today and beat the Wolverines, I seriously doubt, with them in the playoff mix, that he would be taking that call. But the Aggies, I think, are optimistic that if [the Buckeyes] don’t win this game, he might be open to their pitch.”

Texas A&M interest in Ohio State head coach Ryan Day?

Texas A&M interest in Ohio State head coach Ryan Day?

There was no further report on the matter Saturday night, but former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer scoffed at the idea live on air, saying: “I love you, Bruce, but no way.” 

Meanwhile, reports were swirling later Saturday around Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, another possible A&M candidate who had been mentioned by Feldman.

Multiple reports, including from ESPN, said that Stoops was staying at Kentucky.

Michigan State hires Oregon State’s Jonathan Smith

The Michigan State Spartans have found their next head football coach, prying Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State after a wildly successful tenure at his alma mater, the school announced Saturday.

The 44-year-old Smith replaces Mel Tucker, who was fired in September amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Tucker’s former assistant Harlon Barnett served as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, in which the Spartans finished 4-8 and missed bowl eligibility for the second straight year. Barnett and the other assistants were reportedly relieved of their duties Saturday morning.

Smith, a star quarterback with the Beavers in the early 2000s, returned to Corvallis after the 2017 season with the program widely considered one of the worst in the Power 5, having gone 12-36 over the previous four seasons. He became one of the most widely respected head coaches in the country for rebuilding Oregon State’s program into one that was ranked throughout the 2023 season. 

He went 34-35 over six seasons with the Beavers, his first head coaching job, including 25-13 over the past three years. Oregon State entered this weekend at No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but lost 31-7 at archrival Oregon on Friday. Smith did not deny the rumors connecting him to Michigan State after the game while Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said this week that keeping Smith was his “No. 1 priority.”

Smith received extensions and pay raises at Oregon State in 2020, 2021 and 2022, but the Beavers’ future is murky as one of the two Pac-12 teams left behind in the realignment-reshaped conference. Smith had six years remaining on his contract, worth $31.2 million through 2029, with a $3 million buyout.

Syracuse fires Dino Babers

Syracuse fired coach Dino Babers on Sunday after eight years with the Orange that included just two bowl appearances.

Babers was 41-55 overall and 20-45 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a breakout season in 2018 when the Orange went 10-3 and finished No. 15 in the AP Top 25. He could never replicate that success, managing only a 7-6 record in 2022, his other winning season.

The 62-year-old Babers had only one season left on his contract, but the private school did not release terms of the deal.

Jimbo Fisher out at Texas A&M

Following an unsuccessful tenure in which the Aggies went 45-25, including 27-21 in SEC play, Fisher was officially let go by athletic director Ross Bjork.

The former Florida State coach signed a massive 10-year, fully guaranteed contract at the end of the 2017 season.

That contract was extended back to 10 years after he led the Aggies to a 9-1 record during the 2020 pandemic season.

Bjork said 25% of what Fisher is owed — about $19 million — is due within 60 days and the first of several installments of about $7 million each must be paid within 120 days.

Assistant Elijah Robinson will serve as interim coach for the last two games of the regular season.

Mike Yurcich out at Penn State

The Nittany Lions parted ways with their offensive coordinator after their loss to Michigan. 

Penn State was averaging nearly 38 points per game in its third season under Yurcich but struggles against Big Ten East powers Michigan and Ohio State proved to be too much to overcome.

Zach Arnett out at Mississippi State

Mississippi State announced Arnett’s dismissal on its athletics website. Arnett, who took the job after the death of Bulldogs coach Mike Leach last December, leaves the university with a 5-6 record, including a 4-6 mark this season, and the program tied for last in the Southeastern Conference West Division at 1-6.

MSU athletic director Zac Selmon said in a statement that he determined a change in leadership was needed for the football program to move forward and “position it for the highest level of success.”

Senior offensive analyst Greg Knox will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2023 season.

Andy Avalos out at Boise State

Avalos was fired on Sunday, 10 games into his third season leading Boise State. He led the Broncos to a 22-14 overall record.

“I am grateful for the passion, effort and dedication Andy has given to our community and his alma mater while serving as our head coach,” Boise State athletic director Jeremiah Dickey said. “Andy will always be a Bronco, and we wish him and his family all the best in their next steps.”

Defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson was named interim head coach.

Mel Tucker out at Michigan State

Michigan State officially fired Tucker after a suspension and investigation into sexual harassment allegations came to light.

The university terminated what’s left of Tucker’s $95 million, 10-year contract for acknowledging actions that subjected the institution to ridicule, breaching his contract and moral turpitude.

Tucker was 20-14 in three-plus seasons with the Spartans, who he led to 11 wins in 2021, and his career record as a college football head coach is 25-21.

Bruce Feldman on who can replace Mel Tucker

Bruce Feldman on who can replace Mel Tucker

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